Tag archive for "marine biology"

Alaska, Books

Raiders

No Comments 11 July 2013

McCloskey makes his last set as this fine trilogy comes to a close.  Raiders characters mature just as the subject matter comes of age.  Political drama, personal intrigue, cultural differences.  Even though the story and characters are fictional, the events and emotions are very real and certainly command center stage today just as they did in the 1980s.  One of the more interesting themes is the cultural interaction between the Japanese, native Alaskan and the American fisherman.  By looking at the evolution of the fishing community we can extrapolate to predict the future of the fishing industry.  A further generalization predicts the future of many industries.  But the old days, the last third of the 20th century in this case, are gone.  It was a bold time, when men could live large, when risk rode with brains and muscle into the eye storm seeking buxom reward.  Not just to make a living, but to make a point.  A very personal point, shared with crew and friends, often, spoken only with tears.  The romance, like that of the Old West, will live on far into the future.  With the same salt crystals at the corner of the eye as grace the gunnel at sunset.

Alaska, Books, Velkommen

Breakers

No Comments 24 March 2013

The second novel in William McCloskey’s trilogy.    The characters mature and the fishing grows from smaller boats to bigger boats.  The politics get interesting, as foreign interests endeavor to use every loophole to obtain the Alaskan bounty they lost when the 200 mile limit on fishing was imposed.  Breakers is  a great read, factual in many aspects, but fictional and romanticized just enough to keep the pages turning rapidly.  It captures  the energy of commercial fishing, and superimposes human faces to weave the story.  Fishing fans should read it twice.  It is a well told story, McCloskey talking about what he knows and loves.  No more pretentious than that.  If you love big water  and big adventure.  This book’s for you!

 

Alaska, Books

Highliners

No Comments 21 February 2013

A fun and entertaining read.  Nothing too weighty; just right for a cozy night at anchor.  Highliners is book one of a trilogy including Breakers and RaidersWilliam McCloskey begins the tale of Hank Crawford, August, 1963, fresh out of college on his way to a cannery job on Kodiak Island, looking for overtime and big dollars.  The volume ends in 1975, with the fisherman characters and the changing nature of the fishery filled out.  The story is timeless and well told.  Plucky, rebellious young man leaves home to follow a dream despite parental opposition.   Gradually he finds his sea legs and charts his course.  Gradually he becomes part of a dynamic close knit community.  A viking-like adventurous lifestyle is portrayed and a bit romanticized.  Fishermen competing among themselves and then bonding together as a group, lobbying government to protect their interests and limit foreign fishing.  The story builds on its own with little need for gratuituous language.  The rhythm of the sea underlies every chapter and although the characters are fictional the times they occupy are factual.  A must read for all salty fish lovers because it defines fishing commercial fishing in Alaska.  The last frontier.

Books, Gulf Islands, San Juan Islands, Velkommen

Dynamite Stories

No Comments 08 January 2013

Now here’s a cute little story.  Well, almost.  It’s disjointed, no one put the pieces together.  The editor must have been fishing.  Judith Williams writes well and the setting is perfect.  Post WWII Refuge Cove on West Redonda Island.  The solar plexus of Desolation Sound.  A handful of hearty independent thinkers willing to claw at the edges of an island to build a home and a life.  They are independent, perhaps-eccentric, out-of-the-mainstream types; that provides a palette of vibrant colors with which to paint a narrative  on a gray granite surface.

What common thread binds the story together?  The use of Dynamite.  Do I see raised eywbrows?  If you are going to carve out a life on a rock what else would you use to level a bit of the playing field?  Character development is begun early with interesting vignettes of the Refuge Cove residents.  The reader starts to feel a sense of community and continuity.  Toss in a few pages about the history of dynamite and the Nobel Peace Prize.  Then bounce back to the Ripple Rock explosion, not Refuge Cove, but it is Desolation Sound.  By now the character development is fading and the reader starts feeling bounced around.  Well, if disjointed is king, let’s run to the Fraser River and Hell’s Gate Canyon then Chatterbox Falls.  Now it’s time to get back on Redonda Island for more character development.  Characters must be scarce so toss in a dead cougar and a dead bear.  Still searching for a conclusion let’s see if Bute Wax and gold prospecting can tidy up the ending.  An interesting read. Make Judith do a rewrite and fire Terry Glavin the editor.  It will never be a prizewinner, but Dynamite Stories deserved to be better.

Click the front cover to see the back.

Alaska, Books, Velkommen

Journeys through the Inside Passage

No Comments 03 November 2012

Here’s a book that should be required reading, not only for those interested in the Inside Passage, but for all aficionados of good writing.  At first, I was confused by the format of ot the book:  Little vignettes of Joe’s personal experiences, then history lessons surrounding the same location along with legends passed down by old timers.  Often, this format does not work very well.  It can be jarring and disconnected.  That’s what I expected….DANG, was I ever wrong.

The entire length of the Inside Passage, from Seattle to Skagway, is Joe Upton’s poem.  Like you might imagine the ancestral stories of a native people passed down for generations.   Journeys Through the Inside Passage cannot be captured with a clever word or phrase.  Joe Upton paints a picture with his words.  He shows a sea with without eyes and conscience, only rhythm.  Ebb and flow, storm and calm.  A piece of music.  He illustrates the lives that sway to this rhythm:  A melody.  Each chapter is a movement in a symphony.

Totally marvelous – highest praise.

Click the front cover to see the back.

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